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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fall is almost upon us again. Not quite yet, it is that time of year when you have the sad feeling that the summer is over, but at the same time, the anticipation of the things of fall, the colors, the days that start out cool then get hot and then cool off as soon as the sun sets, the pumpkins and fresh apples and so many other good things.  I have more time to think about things this time of year.  I seem to be thinking a lot more about how fast life is going this year.  After the daily time working in the yard, it has all pretty much stopped.  As I wander the yard looking for something that needs done, I only find a weed here and there or a tiny branch to trim.  I have more time to enjoy it all now.  Not that I didn't enjoy it as I worked in it before, but now I have no choice.  I step back and see the trimmed up shrubs, all the tidiness.  I feel content.  It is good now and it was good getting it to this point.  It all seems to be waiting, jut like me, for the next season.  Showtime is over, it is time to rest, to clean up and prepare for winter.  I know I am not the first to have these thoughts about fall, about the seasons, and their comparison to our lives.  Springtime...anticipation, getting ready, early blooms, wanting to hurry past the rain, and get on with summer. that you prepared for and waited for is doing its thing, it is grand, it is good, but suddenly you!  The end of August arrives so suddenly and you realize that it is as good as it gets...yes, it was good,  Time to move on, time to prepare, to cut down, to trim off, stop watering, protect and replant.  Winter is on its way and hopefully you have it all in place.  And so it goes with life.  When we are young, we want to hurry on to the next stage, even parents look forward to the first step, first tooth, first word.  We hold on, but at the same time, push on.  Looking forward to the blooms, the fruit of our preparations and then suddenly we are in our prime without looking back and forgetting what is ahead.  Then it we age, we start preparing for our winter, suddenly we realize that we didn't have to watch our diets  before, the exercise we got just came naturally, we have to trim our bodies, sculpt them in preparation for our winter, to make our winter better.  Wrinkles come, the hair grays, things sag.  The good part about the seasons, compared to our lives, at least there is the anticipated spring ahead...another year of reaping and enjoying the labors in the summer before another fall and winter arrive...and it goes on and on.  I am not complaining, I am happy with where I am.  But I have lived over half of a normal person's lifetime already.  How did that happen?  Where did it go so fast?  So I find myself thinking...have I done all that I wanted to with my life so far?  What is it exactly that I wanted to do anyway?  I just rolled along into each new phase of, marriage, motherhood, grandmotherhood...I don't think I ever had a PLAN.  Life just happened.  I filled it with good things, did all the things I loved to do, as well as the things I didn't really want to do.  It came and it went and I moved on to the next phase.  I think more about a plan nowadays.  What do I want to do with the rest of my life?  Where am I going?  What do I want my kids and grandkids to remember about me?  I still have time...I think, I hope!  I don't know the answers yet, but I am working on them...making my plans and the good news is I DO have a 'spring' of sorts ahead of me...HEAVEN, my eternal spring, summer, fall and winter. 
We started August with our Sweet 16 trip for Joshua.  He turned 16 in November, so it is almost time for his 17th!  But with school and sports and church camps and their family vacation, our trip for him was put off until August.  Florida.  I gave Josh and Emily a list of all that there was to do there and told them to pick their favorites.  I mapped it all out, booked hotels.  And then they broke it to me...they didn't WANT to go someplace every day, they didn't care about the typical touristy things to do there, what they mostly wanted to do was spend time on a beach in the water.  So I mapped it all out again, canceled hotels, rebooked hotels.  And then they broke it to me again...well, maybe just one or two touristy things.  So I mapped it out again, canceled hotels, and rebooked hotels...AND BOUGHT TICKETS for those touristy things.  No.More.Changes!  We had a blast!  I have to admit, these trips really are more about me.  I love spending time with them, getting to know them in ways you don't know them from a few visits a month.  And letting them get to really know me.  
 We had to get up at 3:30am for our 5:30 am flight.  But they managed through it with smiles.  We landed in Orlando, rented a car and headed to Clearwater Beach.  Their top requested place.  We stayed there 6 nights with a trip in the middle back to Typhoon Lagoon.  It was HOT!  and humid, but they didn't complain once about that.  They spent the days on the beach and in the water as they said they would, of course covered in sunscreen.  Even with the highest number sunscreen we all were burnt.
 Josh brought his GoPro and spent his time in the waves shooting video of himself and Emily riding the waves in.
I can't believe how soft the sand was!  It was like flour.  Pure white.  It never got hot, even though it was scorching temperatures.  The shoreline was full of seashells.  All you had to do was bend over and scoop them up.
 Josh had a hit list of things he had to was eat gator.  They both tried it.  They also had piƱa coladas...without the booze of course!
 Typhoon Lagoon.  A huge water park full of slides for all ages.  They made me go on all the slides with them.  Only one of them was so horrible that I refused to go back on.  I just closed my eyes and endured it once...and that was it...forever.
 Emily found a tin man.  It really makes her sunburn look worse than it was.
 We took a trip up north a bit to Honeymoon State Park.  It was a beautiful, way less crowded beach than Clearwater Beach.  We walked forever in hunt of the perfect seashells.  John bought the kids a boogie board.  We all huddled under the shade of a tiny tree.  We had lunch from the one and only concession stand.  It was good.

 Back to Clearwater, we had time to grab our cameras and get back on the beach for an epic sunset.  I love seeing the kids want to capture the moments on their own cameras (phones of course).
 Our last day there, I rented paddle boards on the beach for them.  They had a blast out there.  I felt like the worst grandmother as I watched them paddle off into the ocean!  but at least I captured it all on my camera, right?
We left Clearwater Beach and headed south to the Everglades.  Time for a jet boat and alligators!

 Another thing on Josh's list to eat was frog legs...mission accomplished.
We stayed the night and headed north to Gatorland. When my kids were little, we took them there.  From hearing their Dad talk about it, it was one of the 'have to' items on their list.  We posed in that same set of teeth with their Dad...way back when. Grandpa and Grandma McCool went with us that year.

 The park is full of tropical birds and had a huge area of nesting birds.  It was hot, but those parent birds were shielding their babies with their bodies like an umbrella. 

The birds below are anhingas.
The guy below is a wood stork.
I was happy to get a photo of a white ibis.

We stayed two nights in Orlando.  Our last day was Magic Kingdom.  They had not wanted to go there when we were first making our plans.  It was one of the last minute changes they made.  We were really glad they did!  In spite of the heat we all had a blast.
We got back home and went to work on getting the deck finished.  I am so happy with how it looks now.

 The yard was still going strong.  Lemons are on, bigger than they have gotten before and the tree is full of them.  I am not sure though if they will ripen up...they are still hard and super green.  Maybe it is a lime tree?
 My little fountain has some water hyacinths in it.  This is the first time that I have had them bloom.
 The hibiscus is showing off big time...with buds and blossoms as big as a dinner plate.
After so many years of not camping, we found ourselves camping 3 times this year!  Well, the first time, we stayed in a hotel and just met up with the kids in the daytime, so I guess it didn't really count.  It was more like preparation for the next two.  We met up with John and his family and Jessi and her family at Whistler's Bend campground just outside of Roseburg.  The first time I have been there, but I hope to go back again.
 Our campsite was right at the riverside!  THIS was my view each morning.

 and this was the view each evening as the sun set.

 and this is the view as the moon rose.
 Deer came to visit each afternoon.
 the kids enjoyed their rafts,
 bikes, river, swimming,
 and Josh taught them all about crawdad farming.
 and then there was the fishing.  I don't think Josh has any idea just how important he is in the kids lives...especially Josiah's.  He totally looks up to him and copies his every move...even how he wears his hat.

 nothing beats family time!

I was able to practice my box oven skills and baked Arianna a birthday cake. Did you know that one coal is equal to 35 degrees?  It only takes 10 coals to heat that cardboard foil lined box to 350 degrees.  I propped a rack up on soda cans and covered it up. It was a hit, even if it was the most unlevel cake you ever saw.

of course we had to make tin can ice cream.  The kids kicked that can all around the campground.

this is Josh's idea of camping.
we took a little hike one day to a sweet waterfall.

 I like to find hearts in nature.  Arianna has grabbed on to that and finds hearts for and with me.
We were home for a day to clean up and prepare for Arianna's birthday party at our house. Great Grandma made the cake as always.  This year, Arianna had a splash themed party.  Jessi had all kinds of water games for the kids. 6 looks good on her!!!

So here we are in September.  It is looking like a busy month ahead with the preparations for Emily's wedding.  Here she is in 4 generations of wedding dresses.  Her Great Great Grandmother's (My Dad's Mom), Great Grandma's (my Mom), Grandmother's (Mine) and her Mother's (I made it).  I can't wait to show you what her own gown looks like on her...but that will have to wait until Dec.